Torture, Judaism and the Law

in International Journal of Public Theology
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The increasing publicity of the United States’ use of torture, domestically and abroad, has sparked a lively debate regarding the American values and laws and permissibility of torture. The Jewish scholarly community has been a vocal part of this debate. This paper begins by providing a concise account of the existing laws regarding torture internationally and in the us. It then highlights the Jewish rabbinic community’s involvement in the debate. It then proceeds to provide an account of torture in Judaism that outlines the existing legalistic and theological understandings of it. It will end by proffering a theological account of torture that is hoped to be novel.

Torture, Judaism and the Law

in International Journal of Public Theology

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References

9

Can Judaism ever justify torture? (2006) http://www.jewishchronicle.org/article.php?article_id=5550 [Accessed 27 October 2015].

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Torture (2005) http://urj.org//about/union/governance/reso//?syspage=article&item_id=1928 [Accessed 27 October 2015].

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Steven D. Kepnes‘A Narrative Jewish Theology’Judaism37:2 (1988) 210–217. Also see S. Daniel Breslauer ‘Alternatives in Jewish Theology’ Judaism 30:2 (1981) 233–245.

19

J.K. Crane‘Torture: Judaic Twists’Journal of Law & Religion26 (2010–2011) 469–504 at 469–470.

20

J.K. Crane‘TORTUROUS AMBIVALENCE: Judaic Struggles with Torture’Journal of Religious Ethics39 (2011) 598–605at 598–599.

21

J.K. Crane‘Torture: Judaic Twists’Journal of Law & Religion 26 (2010–2011) 469–504 at 472.

25

Kalman P. Bland‘Jewish Perspectives on Torture’The Muslim World103:2 (2013) 199–203.

26

C.G. Monteflore and H. LoeweA Rabbinic Anthology (New York: Schocken Books1974) p. 47.

28

Joseph TelushkinA Code of Jewish Ethics Volume 2 Love Your Neighbor As Yourself (New York: Bell Tower2009) p. 332.

29

Ibid. pp. 336–338.

30

Kalman P. Bland‘Jewish Perspectives on Torture’The Muslim World103:2 (2013) 199–203.

32

J. TelushkinThe Code of Jewish Ethics Vol. 1 (New York: Harmony Books2006) p. 276.

35

J. TelushkinThe Code of Jewish Ethics Vol. 1 (New York: Harmony Books2006) p. 284.

48

J.K. Crane‘Torture: Judaic Twists’Journal of Law & Religion 26 (2010–2011) 469–504 at 491.

51

Emmanuel LevinasBeyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures (Bloomington: Indiana University Press1994) pp. 133–134.

54

G. WigodorThe New Encyclopedia of Judaism (New York: New York University Press2002) p. 765.

55

Hammer (1986) has pointed to two key approaches to the problem of suffering in Judaism. First a theological one i.e. a rational explanation that reveals Gods intentions. The key source for this approach is the Book of Job. Second a practical one that instructs the faithful to comfort and help the people in distress without giving any thought to rewards or legal obligations (hesed). This approach is indicated in the Book of Ruth. [Reuven Hammer ‘Two Approaches to the Problem of Suffering’ Judaism 35:3 (1986) 300–305.]

57

Eugene B. Borowitz‘God and Man in Judaism Today: A reform Perspective’Judaism23:3 (1974) 298–308 at 303.

58

Barbara Krawcowicz‘Paradigmatic Thinking and Holocaust Theology’Journal of Jewish Thought & Philosophy22 (2014) 164–189at 165. Of paradigmatic thinking in Judaism see Jacob Neusner ‘Paradigmatic versus Historical Thinking: The Case of Rabbinic Judaism’ History and Theory 36 (1997) 353–377.

59

Barbara Krawcowicz‘Paradigmatic Thinking and Holocaust Theology’Journal of Jewish Thought & Philosophy22 (2014) 164–189at 165.

62

Matthew B. Schwartz‘The Meaning of Suffering: A Talmudic Response to Theodicy’Judaism32:4 (1983) 444–451 at 448.

63

Anton W.J. Houtpepen‘Holocaust and Theology’Exchange33:3 (2004) 207–222 at 212.

65

David S. Shapiro‘The Problem of Evil and The Book of Job’Judaism51:1 (1956) 46–52.

66

Frieda Clark Hyman‘Job, or the Suffering of God’Judaism42:2 (1993) 219–228.

67

A.R.C. Leaney‘The Eschatological Significance of Human Suffering in the Old Testament and the Dead Sea Scroll’ Scottish Journal of Theology16:3 (1963) 286–296.

69

E. Feld‘Developing a Jewish Theology regarding Torture’Theology Today63 (2006) 324–329at 325–326. Also see Martin A. Bertman ‘The Hebrew Encounter with Evil’ Apeiron: A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science 9:1 (1975) 43–47.

82

Abraham Kaplan‘The Judaic View of God’Judaism33:4 (1984) 402–415 at 407.

83

Barbara Krawcowicz‘Paradigmatic Thinking and Holocaust Theology’Journal of Jewish Thought & Philosophy22 (2014) 164–189.

84

Kenneth R. Seeskin‘The Perfection of God and the Presence of Evil’Judaism31:2 (1982) 202–210.

86

Reuven Hammer‘The Biblical Perception of the Origin of Evil’Judaism 39:3 (1990) 318–325.

89

Hershel J. Matt‘Man’s Choice and God’s Design: Reflections on Freedom, Judgment and Providence’Judaism21 (1972) 211–221.

93

Quoted in Hershel J. Matt‘Man’s Choice and God’s Design: Reflections on Freedom, Judgment and Providence’Judaism21 (1972) 211–221at 220–221.

95

Midrash Rabbah (1939) p. 58.

96

Midrash Rabbah (1939) p. 18.

98

Samuel E. Karff‘Man’s Power and Limits in a Technological Age’Judaism23:2 (1974) 161–173 at 164–165.

100

S. SchimmelThe Seven Deadly Sins: Jewish Christian and Classical Reflections on Human Psychology (New York: Oxford University Press1997).

104

Quoted in Harold S. Kushner‘Why Do The Righteous Suffer? Notes Toward a Theology of Tragedy’Judaism28:3 (1979) 316–323 at 320.

105

Quoted in Hershel J. Matt‘Man’s Choice and God’s Design: Reflections on Freedom, Judgment and Providence’Judaism21 (1972) 211–221at 214.

106

Jakob J. Petuchowski‘The Concept of “Teshuvah” in the Bible and the Talmud’Judaism17 (1968) 175–185at 185. Also see Samuel H. Dresner ‘Prayer Humility and Compassion’ Judaism 3:1 (1954) 27–36.

108

Abraham Kaplan‘The Judaic View of God’Judaism33:4 (1984) 402–415 at 413.

113

Meir Ben-Horin‘God as Promise of Existence’Judaism37:3 (1988) 315–322 at 321.

114

Jack J. Cohen‘Toward a Theology of Ethics’Judaism7:1 (1958) 56–63.

116

Mordecai Roshwald‘Man and Universe in Greek and Hebrew Perception’Judaism38:1 (1989) 63–73.

117

William Orbach‘The Four faces of God: Toward a Theology of Powerlessness’Judaism32:2 (1983) 236–247. Also see Harold Fisch ‘The Absent God’ Judaism 21:4 (1972) 415–427. According to the rabbinic tradition Shekhinah is primarily a synonym for God or God’s presence in this world which is diminished by sin and strengthened by good deeds [see Howard Schwartz Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism (ny: Oxford University Press 2004) p. 51]. God yearns for the return of the sinful to Him: ‘Return ye backsliding children [and] I will heal your backsliding’ (Jer. 3:22). It has also been suggested that Shekhina is a name of God similar to Adonai or ha-Shem. See for example Ephraim E. Urbach The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs (Jerusalem: The Magnes Press 1975). Also see Max Kidushin The Rabbinic Mind (New York: Bloch Pub. Co. 1972).

120

Quoted in C.G. Monteflore and H. LoeweA Rabbinic Anthology (New York: Schocken Books1974) p.34.

121

Samuel H. Dresner‘Prayer, Humility and Compassion’Judaism3:1 (1954) 27–36. It should be noted that a psychological approach to “evil inclination” emphasizes its sexual qualities. As such if kept within limits it is an instinctual power that is the basis of life and worldly activity. In this role it is similar to Freud’s libido [see Norman S. Goldman ‘Mythology of Evil in Judaism’ Journal of Religion and Health 15:4 (1976) 230–240]. In excess however it will result in violating the divine law [Jeremy Cohen ‘Original Sin as the Evil Inclination: A Polemicist’s Appreciation of Human Nature’ The Harvard Theological Review 73:3/4 (1980) 495–520].

124

Samuel E. Karff‘Man’s Power and Limits in a Technological Age’Judaism23:2 (1974) 161–173 at 165.

126

Lloyd R. Bailey‘Death as a Theological Problem in the Old Testament’Pastoral Psychology22:9 (1971) 20–32. Also see Andre Mayes ‘The Nature of Sin and its origins in the Old Testament’ Irish Theological Quarterly 40 (1973) 250–263.

127

Bernard Och‘The Garden of Eden: From Creation to Covenant’ Judaism37:2 (1988) 143–156.

128

Richard L. Rubenstein‘The Meaning of Sin in Rabbinic Theology’Judaism10:3 (1961) 227–236.

129

Quoted in Reuven Hammer‘The Biblical Perception of the Origin of Evil’Judaism39:3 (1990) 318–325 at 323.

130

Quoted in C.G. Monteflore and H. LoeweA Rabbinic Anthology (New York: Schocken Books1974) p.470.

131

B.M. Levinson‘Biblical Covenants’ in The Jewish Political Tradition Vol. 1 Authorityed. M. Walzer M. Lorberbaum and N.J. Zohar (New Haven: Yale University Press 2000) pp. 6–27 at p. 24.

133

Joseph TelushkinA Code of Jewish Ethics Volume 1 You Shall Be Holy (New York: Bell Tower2006) p. 210.

134

Jacob NeusnerQuestions and Answers: Intellectual Foundations of Judaism (Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers2005) p. 134.

135

S.E. Karesh and M.M. HurvitzEncyclopedia of Judaism (New York: FactsOnFile2006) p. 221.

136

Joseph TelushkinA Code of Jewish Ethics Volume 1 You Shall Be Holy (New York: Bell Tower2006) p. 210.

137

Abraham Kaplan‘The Judaic View of God’Judaism33:4 (1984) 402–415 at 405–406.

139

Alan M. Sokobin‘Shaken Baby Syndrome: A Comparative Study: Anglo-American Law and Jewish Law-Legal, Moral, and Ethical Issues’University of Toledo Law Review29 (1998) 513–553.

143

Elliot B. Gertel‘Divine and Human and Grace: Scroll of Esther and Exodus 32–34’Jewish Bible Quarterly 40:3 (2012) 151–158.

144

Samuel E. Karff‘Man’s Power and Limits in a Technological Age’Judaism23:2 (1974) 161–173 at 164–165.

146

E. Berkovitz‘The Biblical Meaning of Justice’Judaism18 (1969) 188–209at 188–199.

148

Mordecai Roshwald‘The Perception of Law in Judaism’Judaism34:3 (1985) 360–366.

149

Richard Rubenstein‘God’s Omnipotence in Rabbinic Judaism’Judaism9:2 (1960) 120–128.

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